Singapore bans e-scooters from sidewalks after spate of injuries

Photo: Beam

Singapore banned electric scooters from footpaths after a string of injuries from collisions with pedestrians.

Starting Tuesday, the city-state’s government will fine riders on footpaths as much as S$2,000 ($1,474) or jail them for three months, or both, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said Monday.

Electric scooters have become a popular option in a city-state that’s one of the most expensive places in the world to own a car. With the cost of a Toyota Prius topping $100,000, demand for a battery-powered, two-wheeled alternative has soared among delivery companies and commuters.

Yet with widespread adoption has come a string of injuries, including at least one death. In September, a 20-year-old rider was arrested after a collision that left a 65-year-old cyclist in a coma. She later died. There have also been fire concerns after some e-scooters ignited while charging at home.

Singapore’s ban shows how governments are being forced to adapt as electric innovations disrupt urban transport systems that have changed little in decades. Japan, France and several U.S. cities have banished e-scooters from footpaths or are considering outright bans.

“This ban of e-scooters from footpaths is a difficult decision,” Minister Lam said. “But it is a necessary step for pedestrians to feel safe again on public paths.”

The machines were already banned from Singapore’s roads. While they’re still allowed on cycle paths, the move will make them all but useless for many commercial riders. The government says it will work with food-delivery companies like Grab, Deliveroo and FoodPanda to switch e-scooter riders to bikes and motorcycles.

Beam Mobility, which has rolled out an e-scooter network across Asia, said it was “dissatisfied and frustrated” by Singapore’s decision. Banning e-scooters from footpaths “without providing a viable alternative for their operation has essentially eliminated an important transportation option,” the company said in a statement.

Singapore also announced other measures on e-scooters:

  • The government will extend its network of dedicated cycling paths to 750 kilometers by 2025 from the current 440 kilometers
  • E-scooter owners must comply with safety rules by July next year, and the government is offering incentives to those who throw away unsafe machines early. Retailers who sell non-certified devices may be fined as much as to S$5,000 or jailed for three months, or both
  • Singapore won’t accept any more new applications for licenses for e-scooter sharing. Existing applications will be rejected by the Land Transport Authority

Bloomberg